By Dan Coles
A group of self-proclaimed paedophile hunters claim perverts are targeting underage Sikh girls because they can use their religion to force a culture of silence.
Deepa Singh, in his thirties, claims to have both historic and recent evidence of a scandal in the West Midlands which goes back five decades and could mirror the infamous Rochdale and Rotherham child sex grooming case.
The support worker, from Birmingham, West Midlands, believes some men – who he claims are mainly of Pakistani decent – are specifically targeting underage Sikh women to exploit them for sex.
Deepa claims the religon’s traditional cultural values of honour and pride could be being used to enforce silence, with abusers threatening that revealing the abuse will bring shame on victims’ family names and the community as a whole.
He claims his organisation Sikh Youth UK, which he launched in 2013, has roughly 90 examples of the grooming of Sikh girls nationwide in the last 18 months.
Deepa, who is a practicing Sikh, said: “Sikh Youth UK addresses issues in the Sikh community.
“We have discovered an epidemic that goes back five decades, in which Sikh girls are being targeted with religiously aggravated sexual exploitation by Pakistani men and gangs.
“They use different tactics, but mainly exploit these girls through cultural issues and sensitivities.
“Most of the time, these perpetrators blackmail the girls to keep silent, threatening to oust them within their community.
“They also change their name to a Sikh-sounding name to trick the girls into trusting them.
“Over the last few years, we have spoken to countless victims and have been involved in cases that have led to convictions, including a high profile case in Leicester which ended with six convictions.
“But as Sikhs, we feel we have been neglected and let down as a community when approaching social services, police and education departments about these issues.
“I believe the authorities are heading for another Rotherham scandal by neglecting the issue to save race relations.”
Deepa’s connections set up meetings with the people they believe are targeting Sikh girls online, and confront them.
Shocking footage shows him and his team confronting men who allegedly thought they were waiting to meet underage Sikh girls they had been speaking to online but were actually messaging Deepa’s contacts.
West Midlands Police confirmed both citizen’s arrests had resulted in one man being issued with a caution for attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, while the other was released pending further investigation.
Deepa’s group also aims to build a network up and down the UK for other members of his community and he has also presented his findings to MPs and the Home Office.
Deepa, who receives no formal funding for his efforts, said: “What we have highlighted is the whole process of grooming, patterns and perpetrators that are targeting young Sikh girls specifically.
“Our report shows how the Sikh community have been failed by the authorities, governing bodies and agencies.
“Now we’re putting in as much effort as we can to highlight this issue.
“We will not tolerate this hidden scandal that has been brushed under the carpet and will continue to highlight who the perpetrators are.
“We are not sure that we can stop the problem entirely, as it already goes back more than 50 years.
“What we can do is implement measures to avoid it, intervene where it’s happening and put resources into helping the primary and secondary victims.”
Deepa said his group is designed to prevent vigilante action by tackling issues head-on legally, and even host awareness talks across the country in universities, schools, community centres and Temples.
The group has received support from Edgbaston MP Preet Gill and Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, while working heavily with the Sikh media, all Sikh Gurdwaras in the UK and being a member of The Sikh Council UK.
In 2013, vigilant action in Leicester led to a restaurant being mobbed resulting in multiple men being jailed for offences against a teenager including inciting child pornography, paying for the sexual services of a child and trafficking.
But Deepa insists his group work within the law.
He said: “We’ve lost out previously as a community because not only did the authorities let us down, but when our brothers and fathers tried to deal with it they were arrested and branded vigilantes.
“In 2013, a Sikh girl was groomed, raped, abused, and moved around the Midlands.
“The Sikh community gave the information to the police and they said she would handle it, but the girl was raped four weeks later.
“Hundreds of men went into a restaurant and did what they had to do to defend the girl’s honour.
“13 of them were convicted, and only then were the perpetrators arrested.”